Remdesivir and Tocilizumab injections have been approved for COVID-19 treatment.
Maharashtra continues to face acute shortage of two key medicines being used to treat coronavirus in India - Remdesivir and Tocilizumab injections, both approved by the US Food and Drug Authority for the treatment of COVID-19. With this, relatives of patients getting treatment in private hospitals of Mumbai, Thane and Pune have been left to fend for themselves. Experts and caregivers cautioned this state of affairs could have implications on the mortality rate in these cities, all of which are throwing up high number of coronaviruses cases every day.
On July 14, Pune district reported 1,491 fresh coronavirus cases, 1,503 new cases were reported from Thane and 969 cases were reported from Mumbai.
Yashita Arora's father is in the ICU at Mumbai's Lifeline Medicare hospital and has been in desperate need of Remdesivir for three days. "We have been trying to get Remdesivir injections, but with no luck. We have begged the hospital to arrange this drug for us, but they said the government was only providing it to state-run hospitals," Ms Yashita said.
Similarly, Meghana's father is also in the ICU of a private hospital in Mumbai and is in need of Tocilizumab. "We have contacted many dealers, but all of them have been telling us the same thing, it is not available," Meghana told NDTV.
Currently, only a few government-approved vendors have been allowed to supply Remdesivir and Tocilizumab injections in Maharashtra.
While Mumbai has two government-authorised vendors, one in Byculla and another in Ghatkopar, Thane only has one - in Bhiwandi.
Pune, which is fast emerging as a Covid hotspot in Maharashtra, has no authorised vendors for these drugs and the government hospitals are procuring them from Mumbai, resulting in supply lags of three to four days.
"These medicines are not available in Pune. Anyone from Pune or even Ratnagiri, who is looking for these medicines, is queuing up outside SK Chemists in Mumbai," Prasad Danve of the Pune Chemists' Association Pune said.
According to doctors, the Maharashtra government has allowed only government hospitals to procure these medicines to check unsupervised usage. However, this is leading to black marketing of the key Covid drugs.
Each vial of Tocilizumab costs around Rs 40,000 while one dose of Remdesivir costs around Rs 5,400. But, they are being sold at 4 to 5 times the original price because of the high demand and low supply.
Just last week, the Maharashtra police had arrested two people in Thane for selling these in the black market.
The state government then tightened the rules for purchasing these drugs. People will now have to show their Aadhaar card, COVID-19 test certificate, doctor's prescription and phone number to get their hands on the medicine, authorities said.
According to Dr Avinash Bhondway, President of the Maharashtra Indian Medical Association, the state may soon need 10,000 Remdesvir injections every day.